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The nurses picketed the hospital back in October during its first strike.

BMC Registered Nurses Plan to Strike Again

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The nurses' union has re-issued its plans to strike after lengthy negotiations Monday.
 
The Massachusetts Nurses Association's Berkshire Medical Center chapter and the hospital have been attempting to settle a contract for more than a year and a half after the last contract expired in September 2016. In October, the nurses went on a one-day strike that was followed by a four-day lockout. 
 
In February, the nurses again issued a strike notice but withdrew it at the last minute as progress was seemingly made. After multiple negotiation sessions since, with the latest being on Monday, no settlement was reached and the union has again re-issued its notice for a strike. The strike is planned for June 18.
 
"Our nurses have said it loud and clear: We will not stop fighting for staffing improvements that help keep our patients safe. We have demonstrated our unity with three separate votes and have persisted despite the length of our fight and management’s divisiveness,” said Alex Neary, co-chair of the nurses local bargaining committee. 
 
"Today management offered proposals that do not make sufficient improvements for us to provide our patients with the care they deserve."
 
Officials at Berkshire Medical Center said once again it will take steps to ensure a continuity of care during the strike.
 
"A willingness of our registered nurses to walk out on our patients and community is, of course, regrettable.  However, we have made arrangements — as we did in October and had in February if the threatened winter strike had occurred — for a seamless continuation of the quality of care that our community has rightly come to expect of us. No services will be interrupted and no patients should be concerned about the climate or quality of care they will find at the hospital during the job action period that our registered nurses have apparently chosen to embrace," reads a letter penned by hospital spokesman Michael Leary released Tuesday morning.
 
The main divide between the two sides is how to handle staffing. The nurses have been calling for increased staffing levels and guidelines to limit the number of patients a nurse has at a given time. Most recently, the union had asked for charge nurses to start shifts without having to also care for patients. That also called for specific reasons for which a charge nurse should take on assignments but that didn't alleviate the hospital's concern of getting contractually locked into certain arrangements which may not be possible.
 
"The union demanded that dozens of 'charge nurses' in the hospital be largely free from patient assignments. The hospital responded by demonstrating that such assignments, driven by patient census changes and unanticipated nurse absences, occur only a small fraction of the time, but, nonetheless, in response to the union's stated concerns, the hospital offered to add resource nurses to further minimize the times when charge nurses have to care for assigned patients," Leary wrote.
 
"Over that same period, the union sought substantial increases in nurses' pay and the hospital agreed to increases amounting to 14 percent over a four-year period and upward adjustments in night shift and other differentials."
 
The union had hoped to push the issue by offering what it considered a compromise in which the union had agreed to accept the hospital's plan to raise the percentage nurses to pay for individual health insurance premiums by 10 percent — moving from a 90/10 split to an 80/20 split to align with other employees in the building. The union said it would agree to that but also asked to push off the increase until 2020, and stood firm that the pay package would help mitigate the impact on the workers.
 
The hospital didn't see that as much of a compromise.
 
On Monday, the hospital added a fifth year to the offer it had on the table as well as adding a 3 percent pay increase with an additional 2 percent adjustment for the nurses at the top of the scale, bringing a 19 percent pay increase over the course of the five years, according to hospital administrators.
 
"For the past four months, the hospital has, at every opportunity, made clear to the union and to the registered nurses it represents that if they did not timely accept the hospital's offer or if they chose to deliver another strike notice, the offer would be withdrawn," Leary wrote.
 
"The hospital's reasoning is not punitive, but rather the result of its obligation to redirect hospital resources that could have benefited the nurses and use them instead to maintain quality hospital services during disruptive and pointless nurses’ strike. The hospital regrets that the registered nurses and their union have chosen a confrontational course that results in the generous offer being withdrawn and those resources diverted to strike preparation.
 
"Berkshire Medical Center holds its registered nurses in the highest regard and acknowledges that they are an essential part of a broad patient care team that has made possible the nationally award-winning care available here at home.  Nevertheless, the hospital cannot agree to contract terms that put the rest of the care team and hospital operations themselves at serious risk over time. A new strike cannot and will not change that fact."

Tags: BMC,   contract negotiations,   MNA,   strike,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Dc. 6-12

Enjoy sixteen different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the on First Friday Artswalk and all month long! In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

The Office of Cultural Development will host its 5th annual Wreath Art Auction at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the First Friday festivities. Almost 50 hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths, kissing balls and table pieces will be available for purchase and auction following the lighting of the tree in Park Square. Enjoy music and refreshments at a preview reception starting at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Grab-and-go options will be available. All funds raised at this event go to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. Admission at the door is $10, or purchase tickets in advance at the Lichtenstein Center or by emailing slemme@cityofpittsfield.org. 

These events coincide with Downtown Pittsfield's 2nd annual Festive Frolic
, running on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Events include a North Pole Pub Crawl, snowman story time, ornament making, glow-in-the-dark Jingle Bell Rock, a craft fair, carolers, holiday lights, shopping opportunities and more!
 

  MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE

 
Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company presents local singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Matt Cusson, who will join forces to kick off the season right, with holiday songs and lots of fun. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 
Plus...  
FRI North Pole Pub Crawl in Downtown Pittsfield FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow FRI Yule Jam at Hancock Shaker Village | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North | FRI JB's Acoustic Gravel at PortSmitt's | FRI Patient Zero Records Show at Crossroads | FRI Legacy at The A | SAT Dust Bowl Faeries at The Whitney | SAT Holidays Around the World Dinner at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Mike McMann at Proprietor's Lodge | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | MON Cabaret Workshop Performance at Berkshire Music School | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Vinyl Soul Night at Thistle & Mirth | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Marc Black's History of the '50s & '60s at Berkshire Athenaeum | THU The Picky B's at Mission

  FAMILY FRIENDLY

SAT Visit with Santa at The Beacon Cinema
 
 
Visit with Santa at the Beacon Cinema as part of the Downtown Pittsfield Festive Frolic! This is a family event where children can have their photo taken with Santa by a professional photographer! In exchange, please donate a brand-new, unwrapped item to the Berkshire Community Action Council's Warm Clothing Program. See website for list of needed itemsIf you are unable to bring an item, a donation of $5 will be accepted by BCAC volunteers. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Plus...
FRI WeeMuse Adventures at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI Screening of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees SAT Festive Frolic Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT WeeMuse Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT FREE Kids' Crafts at Peace Train Tees SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum | SAT Make Holiday Ornaments at Berkshire Paint & Sip SAT We Can Be Heroes at Berkshire Museum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum SUN Billy Budd in the Breadbox Audio Book Launch at Arrowhead | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's MON Tiny Tots Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Dungeons & Dragons at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE WeeMuse Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Graphic Novel Book Club at Berkshire Athenaeum WED WeeMuse Parent/Child STEM at Berkshire Museum THU Preschool Play & Learn at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Club at Berkshire Athenaeum

  WELLNESS

SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Salve at BYDF
Join Amanda Marsh for a Restorative Yoga with CBD class at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness. You will be guided into a deeply relaxing restorative yoga flow, blending supported yoga postures, breathing techniques, and cannabis-infused salve to encourage letting go fully into each yoga posture. 5:30-7 p.m. $25 for the class and $65 for the class and salve. 
Plus...
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit SUN Restorative Yoga w/Massage at Radiance Yoga | MON Common Yoga at Zion Lutheran Church | MON Let's Keep It Moving at Knesset Israel

  COMMUNITY

SAT+ A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Revel in the joy and redemptive power of A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with holiday carols and the wonderment of the season. $29/$39. A sensory-friendly performance will be held held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Plus...
FRI-SUN Gingerbread House Contest at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Holiday Craft Fair, Cookie Walk & Tag Sale at Zion Lutheran Church | SAT Lyme Alliance Meeting at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT-SUN Cop on Top 10th Anniversary at Walmart SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage | SUN Brunch w/Genna & Jess at Dottie's | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's | SUN Jazz Brunch at Hotel on North | SUN Berkshire Concert Choir at Berkshire Museum | SUN Hilltown Choral Society Holiday Concert at Zion Lutheran Church | SUN FREE Eagles Band Holiday Concert at First United Methodist | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Open Swim at Gladys Allen Brigham Center | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Holiday Market at Dottie's

  LEARNING

TUE Paint "Holiday Pittsfield Park" at Paint & Sip
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